- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ron Paul says the legions of newcomers his presidential campaign brought to the Republican Party are getting the cold shoulder from John McCain and from the party.

The Texas congressman says neither he nor his supporters have heard from Mr. McCain or Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan since March 4, when the Arizona senator accumulated enough delegates to clinch the party’s presidential nomination.

“I don’t think they want them,” Mr. Paul told The Washington Times, adding that indifference doesn’t surprise him because the party’s establishment has deserted traditional conservative principles for big government and foreign intervention.

“We don’t agree with them,” he says. “We agree with the Old Right, and they’re the New Right, which is ‘The Wrong,’ [because] the New Right has morphed into neoconservative.”

Many of his 800,000 presidential nomination votes were from newcomers to the Republican Party — the kind of dedicated small-donor volunteers the party needs, he says.

Mr. Duncan says he informed Mr. Paul that Mr. McCain had gone over the top on delegates but did not discuss how the party might hold onto Mr. Paul’s supporters — and their potential future financial contributions.

Only Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has bothered to tell Mr. Paul that his supporters are welcome, and valued, in the party. Mr. Cole, an evangelical Christian who says he too once felt unwelcome in the party, confirmed in a separate interview that he wants to see Mr. Paul’s supporters stay and help expand the party’s ranks.

Mr. McCain hasn’t approached Mr. Paul’s voters because Mr. Paul has not called to say he is ending his run, says McCain campaign senior adviser Charles Black.

Mr. Paul says that neoconservatives who hijacked the Republicans extol what he most abhors: the belief that government is part of the solution, not the problem, and that America’s inherent beneficence entitles it to force selected other nations to make themselves over in America’s image.

That’s partly the reason why, even though Mr. McCain has crossed the finish line of this marathon, Mr. Paul will keep running in states with upcoming primaries.

He wants to see whether the surprisingly successful appeal of his limited-government message represents the beginning of a “revolution” within the Republican Party similar to the one that began swelling the party’s ranks with church-going newcomers 30 years ago.

“I am doing a few more things, in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, maybe Idaho,” he says. “I’m curious right now to see how the rallies go. Whether they fade off now — just see what happens.”

He thinks he knows why Sen. Barack Obama raised more money and won more Democratic delegates than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and why Mr. McCain ended up at the top of the Republican heap, while Mr. Paul won no primaries and came away with only 42 delegates.

“We didn’t have $100 million and the support of the evening news,” he says. “At a rally in Philadelphia, we had 5,000 people. If Obama had it, he’d have been on the front page of the New York Times.”

He estimates his e-mail list of committed supporters alone would account for about 10 percent of the Republican electorate and could move mountains, if they choose to stay in the party and work to change it the way evangelicals and Catholics changed it, beginning in the Ronald Reagan era.

Predicting that neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Obama will pull U.S. troops out of Iraq, he sees little difference among the candidates in either party because they all have accepted in one way or another America’s playing the costly role of sole surviving empire in the world.

In the end, he wants to be able to say that he and his supporters “revitalized interest in the concept of personal liberty. It is the instrument that made America the greatest country ever — and we’re about to lose it.”

Besides, there’s something about continuing to be a major-party candidate. He tried a presidential nomination run once before, in 1988, as a registered Republican but running on the Libertarian Party ticket. He didn’t get anything like the attention he has been getting as a major-party candidate who now, like then, wants to abolish the Federal Reserve System and most federal agencies.

“Before this campaign, they treated me respectfully,” he says. “But they knew that I was out there someplace. Now, it’s completely different, because the attitudes are changed.”

What changed attitudes of fellow lawmakers, the press and the rest of the world was impact and money. He raised nearly $33 million, nearly three times the $13 million former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee raised, according to the latest Federal Election Commission report.

He has accumulated 400,000 names of committed, active supporters on his e-mail list, even though he opposes President Bush and Mr. McCain’s war in Iraq. And certainly not for someone who wants to put America back on the gold standard, so everybody once again can exchange dollars for a fixed amount of gold.

He talks like this about monetary policy — the term alone makes most people’s eyes glaze over — and somehow gets large, often young crowds to cheer his words.

“Our supporters had more signs than everybody else put together,” he says, adding that the party regulars “know something is stirring. They are already paying attention to us, so I’m in a better position now than ever before.”

Since the 1970s, he has been quizzing Federal Reserve chairmen about monetary issues — managing the supply of dollars and interest rates.

“But it was only after people had gotten interested in what I was doing, through the Internet, that all of a sudden, if I ask Ben Bernanke a question, somebody has it on a YouTube, and hundreds of thousands of people see it,” he says.

Campaigning as major-party hopeful has meant people know at least something about him. “If they’re not at the point where they’re respecting the message, they’re at least respecting the fact that people out there are waving signs in their district,” he says. He thinks most of those sign wavers want to work within the Republican Party.

Fellow lawmakers say his supporters have all but taken over at least one state Republican Party — in Montana — and some county Republican parties in Texas.

He won’t support Mr. McCain “unless he changes — bring the troops home, believe in the gold standard, reject all the votes he ever had for all his entitlement spending. He needs to come back to the roots of the Republican Party.”

Still, Mr. Paul thinks his supporters can be induced to stick with the Republican Party. “You can work to change a party without endorsing some of the people that aren’t the kind of Republicans you want to be.”

REP. RON PAUL

Republican congressman from Texas’ 14th District and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

•Has drawn 803,217 votes, or 4.55 percent of ballots cast in this year’s primaries and caucuses, putting him fourth among Republicans, with more than Rudolph W. Giuliani or Fred Thompson.

•Raised $32.6 million for his campaign through the end of January, including a one-day online record for either party of $6 million on Dec. 16.

•Had his best show of support in Washington’s caucuses, where his 20.8 percent was good for third place.

•Had his best showing with a second-place finish in Nevada’s caucuses, with 13.7 percent of the vote.

•Claims to have secured 42 delegates to September’s nominating convention, although other estimates show him with less than half that number.

•Was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president in 1988.

Sources: Federal Election Commission; www.TheGreenPapers.com; the Paul campaign

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